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https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2020-18
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/soil-2020-18
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  18 May 2020

18 May 2020

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A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

Nitrogen availability determines the long-term impact of land-use change on soil carbon stocks in grasslands of southern Ghana

John Kormla Nyameasem1,2, Thorsten Reinsch1, Friedhelm Taube1, Charles Yaw Fosu Domozoro2, Esther Marfo-Ahenkora2, Iraj Emadodin1, and Carsten Stefan Malisch1 John Kormla Nyameasem et al.
  • 1Christian-Albrechts Universität Kiel, Institut für Pflanzenbau und Pflanzenzüchtung, Grünland und Futterbau/Ökologischer Landbau, Hermann-Rodewald Str. 9, D-24118 Kiel, Germany
  • 2Council for Scientific and Industrial Research – Animal Research Institute, P.O. Box AH 20, Achimota, Accra, Ghana

Abstract. Enhancing the capacity of agricultural soils to resist soil degradation and to mitigate climate change requires long-term assessments of land-use systems. Such long-term evaluations, particularly regarding low-input livestock systems, are limited. This study evaluated the impact of long-term land-use practices, condensed tannins (CT) and soil nutrient status on carbon cycling in arable and permanent systems of a tropical Savannah. Soil samples were taken (0–30 cm depth) from arable crop fields, grazed-seeded grassland, cut-use permanent crops and native grassland. Soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks ranged from 19.9 to 36.8 Mg SOC ha−1 (mean ± sd = 32.9 ± 0.2 Mg ha−1). SOC stocks were lower for grazed-seeded grassland relative to cut-use grass, legume trees and shrubs. Within sown systems, nitrogen availability seemed to be the most critical factor that determines the fate of the SOC stocks, with soil nitrogen (N) concentration and the SOC being highly correlated (r = 0.90; p < 0.001). Accordingly, while converting the native grassland to grazed pastures resulted in mean annual losses of 0.11 Mg C ha−1 (p < 0.05), the conversion to woody legumes resulted in slight (0.03 Mg C ha−1, ns) increments. In total, CT, N, P, K and pH (with interaction terms) explained 92 % of variations in the long-term changes of SOC stocks. The regression model showed that improved soil fertility management and the use of tannin-rich plants could promote SOC storage in the Savannah ecological region in the long-run. Our study suggests the cultivation of legume tree/shrub forage species as an environmentally sustainable land-use option to mitigate agricultural CO2 emissions from low-input livestock systems in the grasslands of southern Ghana.

John Kormla Nyameasem et al.

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John Kormla Nyameasem et al.

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Nitrogen availability determines the long-term impact of land-use change on soil carbon stocks in Ghana J. K. Nyameasem, T. Reinsch, F. Taube, C. Y. F. Domozoro, E. Ahenkora-Marfo, I. Emadodin, and C. S. Malisch https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.12016158.v1

John Kormla Nyameasem et al.

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Short summary
Long-term studies on the impact of land-use change and crop selection on soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks in Sub-Saharan Africa are scarce. Accordingly, this study analysed the impact of converting natural grasslands to a range of low-input production systems in a tropical Savannah on SOC stocks. Apart from the cultivation of legume tree/shrub species, all land management techniques were detrimental. Grazed grasslands particularly had almost 50 % less SOC than natural grasslands.
Long-term studies on the impact of land-use change and crop selection on soil organic carbon...
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